Friday, 19 March 2021

Life Has a Way

 of coming at you when you least expect it. 

I had a blog post planned, I hadn't drafted it yet but I'd done the pictures and was ready to go when the universe decided to test me yet again or something like that. I was ploughing on with my Cabot Trail walk and about 100 miles into it's 186 mile distance, walking every other evening for about 4-5 mikles and with a longer walk at the weekend.

We headed out after dinner on the 18th Feb, frankly I was tired and didn't really want to go at all but Himself encouraged me out and when we hit the 3 and a half mile point he asked if I wanted to carry on the longer route or just go the quick way home. Every ounce of my being said the short way, so I deliberately said no the long way because this was meant to be about losing weight and getting fit and you don't do that cutting corners, and this was where I came unstuck. I have gone through all the what ifs since that night because that's human nature but what will be will be and what ifs can't change it.

 Just over a mile from home and going at a cracking pace because I just wanted to get home, I tripped over a paving slab and went flying, literally. As I still have a frozen shoulder I couldn't put my hand out to save myself so my full, and not inconsiderable weight, was taken by my left shoulder. I felt and heard it crack so I knew instantly I had done something bad. I managed to get up and Himself thought maybe it was fine because I could move my hand, but I knew it wasn't. He asked if I wanted to call an ambulance or walk home and I chose to walk home, I just wanted to get into the house. A few friends have said 'you must have been in agony' but no the adrenaline had kicked in so I couldn't really feel a thing. We got in and called 111, the girl there was great ran through a load of questions to establish I wasn't in shock then told me to take a couple of paracetamol and arranged for a doctor to call me within half an hour. Thankfully whilst I waited for the call I had the foresight to take of my rings on that hand, I wouldn't have got them off if I had left it any longer. The doctor called within 15 minutes decided something was broken and booked me an appointment at A&E. In these covid times you can't just rock up unannounced. My awesome brother agreed to drive me to the hospital even though by this point it was 10.30 at night.

I have to say I was super impressed with how things were run, so quick and efficient. I checked in at one window then was directed to another where I was triaged by a nurse. Knowing that x-rays would be required they sent me for those straight away rather than waiting for the doctor to see me first. So by the time I did see the doctor the x-rays were there and confirmed I'd broken my shoulder. Well in fact they thought I had cracked it and more worryingly chipped the cuff bone. Typically I'm allergic to codeine so they couldn't give me anything stronger than ibuprofen and a full arm sling, then I was sent off to reception to book an appointment at the trauma clinic for a week's time to see what was what and whether I would need surgery. I was back in the house by 1am! 

As you can imagine I had a shit night due to the shock and the pain setting in. The next morning I rung our doctor's surgery without much hope as it has always been near impossible to even get through, let alone get an appointment since well before covid and lockdowns. The angels must have been on my side because I got straight through, I was almost incoherent with shock but they did get a dr to call me back and after discussing options, which are not many when you can't take any form of opiate, he prescribed a stronger form of ibuprofen alternated with paracetamol. 

My visit to the trauma clinic a week later established I had definitely broken the bone rather than cracked it but apparently if you are going to break a bone mine is the best kind to have, neat and with minimal displacement. More importantly I had not chipped the rotator cuff which meant there was no need for surgery or a cast, gravity and immobilization are all that is required. The hospital had put me in the wrong kind of sling but thankfully it hadn't done any harm so I was re-slinged and sent on my way with the strict instruction of NO lifting of any weight with that arm. I have to go back after 6 weeks for x-rays to make sure all is doing what it should.

It's been 4 weeks. Physically most of the bruising has gone and there is only a little swelling left, but in terms of my mental well being it's been an interesting time. I have always considered myself a chilled but ultimately lazy person, anyone who has read my blog for a while will know this as I say it often enough. I now know this is not actually the case. I may not charge about sporting and I may like to loaf in front of the tv, but suddenly finding yourself incapacitated makes you realise actually I'm always doing something. The absolute and all consuming angry frustration at not being able to do things took me by surprise. Each day that passed there were more and yet more things to add to the list of things I now couldn't do and it drove me MAD! The fact that this is going to be my life for the foreseeable future makes me want to howl. From not being able to file a broken nail or put on deodorant (you have a go at rolling deodorant under the same armpit as the hand holding the tube) to the fact I had a compost delivery and seeds to plant and a rockery to build. I also can't do any of the crafts I love. It's bloody hard.

I have started exercises from the physio, don't get me started on THAT shit show. The NHS has outsourced it's physio and they don't see you for appointments anymore, I have had a phone consultation and been emailed an exercise sheet. They hadn't seen my records and couldn't even spell my name right! I mean I would have thought that at least would have been there in front of them... I have to call them back after my follow up consultation, tell them what was said  and they will email me another exercise sheet. Frankly the one they sent is so confusing I can't actually figure out what I am meant to be doing. Luckily the universty's occupational health team have been on hand and sent me some much better stuff which I am working from.

So at the moment life is about huge loads of frustration, occasional bouts of pain and occasional bouts of panic that what if things aren't healing as they should. I'm still having to sleep upright which is crap because basically I don't really sleep, I'm averaging a couple of hours a night at most, so I'm accruing a massive sleep debt which doesn't help the mental well being. But there are little moments of victory. This morning I was able to put on deodorant and last night I was able to paint my nails. 

This afternoon I go for my covid jab which I'm delighted about even though I'm not looking forward to having both arms aching for a few hours! Fingers crossed I don't have a reaction.

Anyway that's me. The next few months are going to be a hill to climb. Bones take 6-12 weeks to heal then you have to get mobility back. The shoulder is the worst joint for seizing up apparently so at best I'm looking at 3-4 month at worst a year to 18 months. It's going to be a long and rocky road. Poor Himself is having to do everything and I'm not helping by being a bad patient.

The Sunday before this happened I spent a blissful day cleaning my latest handbag purchases so I'll leave you with them.

 The blue ones were a job lot and the telephone cord bag was a lucky spot at a fraction of the cost they usually sell for. Thank god for the joy that is handbags.

Thursday, 28 January 2021

The January Round Up

 So usually my January post would be a bit of a round up including the usual the good, the bad and the ugly dress purchases from the previous 12 months, and maybe a few of the things I’m looking forward to in the next few months.Obviously last year was an extraordinary year... 

Certainly the year started well, I went to a ‘January Sale’ vintage fair and made purchases there and elsewhere, all of which definitely fell under the good, bad & ugly definition! (When will I ever learn??) I went to a cool theatre production set in a real courtroom, I had tickets for Beautiful the musical in August and the Chelsea Flower Show in May which had been on my bucket list for years. I had managed to persuade Himself to have more than just a long weekend away and quickly booked a week in Cornwall before he changed his mind, and I was signed up for 4 events at the Oxford Literary Festival. So much to look forward too.

The week we went into lockdown I was actually on holiday with dates set and tickets booked for the Bright Young Things exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery and the Kimono; Kyoto to Catwalk Exhibition at the V&A. Instead both venues closed, and I ended up cancelling my leave to dash into the office to collect my work laptop and anything else from my desk I thought I might need to work from home for a few months. I never expected to still be working from home nearly a year later. 

I started to adjust to the new normal. It wasn’t easy and there have definitely been more downs than ups. Whilst I thank god we have remained well I’ve had the sad and sobering experience of seeing people I know as well as friends I care about getting sick or having family members die. I will never fathom the covid deniers and anti maskers, never. 

Like many I plunged into gardening with a passion and comfort ate with the best of them. As I said to a colleague it’s a good job I’m not in the office right now because none of my clothes fit! 

I tried to go out and walk. Himself signed up for a couple of virtual challenges and by the end of the year had pounded the pavements and clocked up an impressive 1500 miles, lost a shedload of weight (damn him) and general got fitter.

 I started small with a 21 mile challenge and then another for 31 miles in September because who wouldn’t want this awesome elephant medal? This walking plan didn’t start so well as Himself was well into his challenge and was walking far and fast, whilst I was out of practice overweight and unfit! I drove him mad walking too slowly and only for 3 or 4 miles before I had to give up and go home, in the end I stopped going out. I then moaned about being unfit and over weight so we struck a compromise. I would go out with him a couple of times a week and we would walk at my pace for a few miles I would then branch off and go home and he would crack on for another 10 or 12 miles. I was slowly building up my distance and sometimes I would carry on without him at my own speed. This all slid off towards the end of the year but after the excesses of Christmas I knew enough was enough. 

I have been watching what I eat but still allowing the odd treat like chips & wine, I also signed up for a new and bigger challenge. I’m doing the Cabot Trail because I liked the medal (yes I am that shallow) and it also reminded me of Murder She Wrote and Angela Lansbury which was set in the fictitious town of Cabot Cove!

It’s 184 miles long and I started it on a very foggy 1st January, so far I have done 65 miles. 

I am walking every other day and my speed and distance are improving. I have still been doing my pilates class though hugely frustratingly my frozen shoulder has meant I have been able to do less and less of the class. I have also reduced by caffeine intake dramatically to try and help with the mad night sweats. It’s been interesting to see how alcohol affects those. I may well do more experimenting on this but so far spiced rum & coke is a big trigger (weeps) wine less so and beer not so much at all. Of course there is no way I will ever stop drinking the rum, but I’m limiting it to a Friday or Saturday night so it doesn’t matter so much if I have a crap night’s sleep and want to have a lie in the next day! 

A plus of lockdown is having more time to read which has been bliss. I got quite a few books for Christmas as you can see above, but I am trying to resist dipping into the new ones until I have cleared some of the ones that have been in my book mountain for years now. Having said that I dived straight into the Peanuts one on Christmas morning I loved it. 

I’ve noticed a few blogs listing what they read last year so I shall add my list at the end of this post so you can skip over it if you really couldn't care less about my reading habits. I have used Goodreads for several years now as a sort of virtual bookshelf and I always sign up for their annual reading challenge. On Goodreads you rate the books from one star to five and whilst I didn’t actually give up on any this year some were definitely better that others. 

Just because I’ve got fatter doesn’t mean I stop shopping I just move from clothes to accessories! 

As you can see I had a bit of a brooch splurge.The suns and the boats were job lots. 

I also got this fabulous Erstwilder one from Himself for Christmas. Ok so I just might have bought it as soon as the collection dropped because I knew it would sell out instantly, and then given it to him to give me for Christmas, but as my favourite Peanuts character has always been Linus this was a no brainer. 

Oh and make-up. My favourite ever eye liners are Urban Decay so I may have invested in some when they had an offer on. I also thought I'd try one of their eye shadow palettes. The handbags keep coming

 and still keep coming, I have added to the collection with several more since these!

At least the days are getting longer, I woke up to the most gorgeous sky last week so ran downstairs and grabbed the camera and hung out of the bathroom window to get a shot. 

Onwards and upwards.

I'll finish up with my list, I’ve highlighted in bold any I gave a score of 4 or more on Goodreads.


Among the Bohemian: Experiments in Living 1900-1939 – Virginia Nicholson

Duplicate Death – Georgette Heyer

Last of the Giants: The true story of Guns N’ Roses – Mick Wall

Hollywood Rocks!: The ultimate guide to 1980’s Hollywood rock and roll scene – Michael Rocchio

Detection Unlimited – Georgette Heyer

Courtesans: Money, Sex and Fame in the 19th Centuary – Katie Hickman

Marianna North: A very intrepid painter – Michelle Payne

A Century of Bags – Claire Wilcox

No Wind of Blame - Georgette Heyer

Dear Mrs Bird – AJ Pearce

Nautical Chic – Amber Butchart

Watching You – Lisa Jewell

The Family Upstairs – Lisa Jewell

The Glittering Hour – Iona Grey

A House of Ghosts – WC Ryan

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle – Steven Turton

Queenie Malone’s Paradise Hotel – Ruth Hogan

Corsets and Codpieces: A History of Outrageous Fashion – Karen Bowman

Before the Coffee gets Cold – Toshikazu Kawaguchi

The Love Child – Rachel Hore

Bags – Claire Wilcox

Nigel, My Family and Other Dogs – Monty Don

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day – Winifred Watson

Arthur: The dog who crossed a jungle to find a home – Mikael Lindnord

Longbourn – Jo Baker

The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy – Rachel Joyce

Maisie Dobbs – Jacqueline Winspear

Historical Noir: The Pocket Essential Guide to Fiction, Film & TV  - Barry Forshaw

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race – Reni Eddo-Lodge

The Cleaner of Chartres – Sally Vickers

The Picture House by the Sea – Holly Hepburn

Appetite for Dysfunction : A Cautionary Tale – Vicky Hamilton

The Riviera Set – Mary Lovell

The Trick to Time – Kit de Waal

Once Upon a River – Diane Setterfield

The Foundling – Stacey Halls

Rebecca’s Tale – Sally Beauman ( the only book I gave a 5 star review!)

Drawn to the Edge – John Threlfall

The Street of Wonderful Possibilities: Whistler, Wilde and Sargent in Tite Street – Devon Cox

Art Deco Masterpieces of Art – Janet Tyson

Twenties London : A City in the Jazz Age – Cathy Ross 

Alice Diamond and The Forty Elephants: Britain’s First Female Crime Syndicate – Brian McDonald

The Land Girl – Allie Burns

The Good Pilot Peter Woodhouse – Alexander McCall Smith

Tombland – CJ Sansom

The Peanuts Book – Simon Beechcroft 



Sunday, 10 January 2021

Christmas and all that.

 Well as ever I'm late to the party. I have been meaning to blog before but, well, you've all heard that one before! 

I have now excuse really in that I actually had 2 full weeks off over the Christmas break for the first time ever, at Christmas or anytime actually. I never usually take that long off in one go but the chancellor of the university gave all the staff an extra 2 days off in recognition of all the hard work we have been doing. We had a virtual team bake and a zoom quiz on Friday 18th and shut up shop so to speak. Which was very nice but meant that last week was absolutely manic and I did a couple of very late evenings (8am to 11pm anyone?) 

Which may well have been a contributing factor in me sleeping until pretty much lunchtime the next few days! I could have felt guilt for sleeping half the day away but frankly I was exhausted, and it's not like we had anything planned. Not only has work been very busy, the night sweats have been soundly kicking my arse these last couple of months. One night my internal inferno woke me up 12 times!?! 

I have spent the whole of this week drastically cutting the caffeine and it has seemed to have made a difference. Alcohol is another trigger but if I fancy a drink I'll have one and deal with the consequence.  

I popped into Oxford a couple of times before we were locked down again. I have what seems to be another middle aged woman's curse, a frozen shoulder which is not only extremely debilitating it's ridiculously painful too, so off to the osteopath I went. I am the triple threat apparently, female, over 40 and with a thyroid condition. The clinic I use is in Oxford just across the road from work, handy when you are in work, not so much so when you aren't.

The first week I went I caught an earlier train and popped into Debenhams. Sadly another historic high street name that has gone into receivership. I have so many wonderful memories from the Oxford branch which is/was an old rambling Victorian building with the most amazing cafe back in the day. I had some vouchers to spend and at that point they were still accepting them. As you can see I ended up buying myself a load of sparkles (magpie by name magpie by nature.) I'm a sucker for a jewellery sale and ALWAYS found something in theirs, I shall miss it sorely.  


 From there I went and got pulled about by the Osteopath, it was bloody painful but I left with an appointment for the following week and a couple of new exercises to do daily. Apparently my shoulder could have been a lot worse than it is, so I guess that is something.

The next week I had to pop into work to collect a hamper they were giving out in lieu of a Christmas party any time between 10am - 2pm and the osteopath couldn't fit me in until 3.45pm so I arranged to meet Charlotte, have a lovely catch up, lunch and a browse round the Ashmolean and the latest exhibition at the Bodleian.

 It is called The Art of Advertising and though tiny, was fascinating. We were the only people in there so distancing wasn't an issue. It was just so wonderful to be able to go to an exhibition again I felt quite emotional. I have missed them so much. 

There was the added bonus of another free exhibition on at the same time called Helen Muspratt Photographer. I have never heard of her before but her photographs were just gorgeous and some of the techniques she used frankly extraordinary. 

I gather it's a travelling exhibition so if it comes your way I'd highly recommend it, and certainly google her if you love photography. 

We had delicious pizza at Franco Manca where they had cleverly divided the restaurant up with perspex sheeting so it felt perfectly safe,. Again the chance to do something as simple as have pizza with a friend felt wonderful. We had booked timed tickets for the Ashmolean and had a lovely amble about in our allotted slot before I headed of to get mangled again. It was just as painful as the week before and he booked be straight in for a session on the 23rd Dec which ended up being cancelled due to the new restrictions. 

The next evening Himself and I took ourselves over to visit Nephew Number One and his girlfriend who have just bought themselves their first home, having finally moved in a couple of weeks before. It's about a 30 minute walk from our house so we combined it with getting some exercise and dropping off their Christmas presents. We were a bit naughty and did nip in for a quick inspection because I was dying to see the place. We did take off our shoes, sanitize our hands and keep our masks on whilst we did so. It's a wonderful house and I'm so happy for them.

On the 22nd Soo popped over to exchange presents and go for a socially distanced walk. It was so lovely to see her, it's been an age since we had seen each other so there was a lot to catch up on. We bought lunch in a cafe in town then meandered back home. 

Himself and I were meant to be going to my Mum for Christmas and staying over with her for a few days but it was becoming clear another lockdown was looming and that wasn't going to happen. Once we knew that was the case on the 24th Dec we walked down to Dad's care home to meet her outside and give her her presents and drop Dad's off too. They have *finally* built a perspex booth at the home so Mum is able to visit Dad again. She only get's one 20 minute appointment a week but at least it's something. I'm glad she got on on Christmas Eve. It was frustrating for the rest of us because the phone on Dad's floor broke that week and they didn't fix it until the new year so none of us got to speak to him until then. Poor Dad was quite upset as was my Aunt as she had been trying to ring. I was more annoyed because they didn't bother to report it as broken for 5 days!?! 

Luckily I had spoken to him on the 23rd. We also walked down to my brother's in the evening of the 23rd to wish them a Happy Christmas from the doorstep and drop some stuff off. 

There was a gorgeous sunset. We walked home via the chip shop for a cheeky chip shop chips dinner, as we weren't sure if they would close during lockdown again or not.

Christmas eve watched 3 different versions of A Christmas Carol going out for a walk in between to stretch our legs and walk off our huge dinner. So many more people have decorated their houses this year it was fun to walk around the streets seeing them all but dear lord it was bitterly cold!

So we ended up having our first ever full Christmas of just the 2 of us in 23 years of being together! 

We had a lazy morning with buck's fizz opening presents in our bedroom where we have my Nan's old tinsel Christmas tree in the corner of the room. 

I took a picture of these two kites from our bedroom window because I loved the way the sun was catching them.  

We went out for a long walk 

the weather was gorgeous, very cold but sunny. I fell in love with this tree. If I had a tree on my front lawn I would do this for sure, it looked so pretty.

When we got home my Brother, Sister in law & Mum (they are Mum's bubble so she went there for lunch) called round and wished us a Happy Christmas from the gate. 

All in all a lovely quiet day. I shall leave you with some of my new Christmas decorations. I saw these old fashioned wooden designs in a Home and Antiques magazine and had to invest in some.

I bought a ship, a whale, an elephant, a tiger and a lion. The felt squirrel in the first picture is also new, I couldn't resist him to remind me of the ones I saw on Brownsea. 

Sunday, 15 November 2020

Catching up on October.

 Thank you for the kind comments on my last post. I feel I should clarify that we had already done a fair bit of clearing at the house in Margate when Himself’s Mum died a few years back. I guess what also made it easier was that she had been a heavy smoker so a lot of things were only fit for the bin. 

It has been heartening to know that so far just over £600 has been raised for the British Heart Foundation via the donations of goods and furniture (I love the fact you get updated when you sign up for gift aid) It’s fitting that it goes to that charity as well.

Other good news is there has been an offer on the house, it’s early days so we are not getting too excited just yet, but we felt it was validation of the careful research we did beforehand to make sure it went on the market for the right price. 

I also mentioned last post I had to collect new glasses. I was due an eye test in March but obviously that didn’t happen and I had finally got to the point where my eyes were hurting at the end of a long day over the laptop and also I couldn’t physically hold my book any further away (my arms are only so long!) when trying to read. I had had a gentle reminder letter from my opticians a few weeks before so I bit the bullet and booked in an appointment. This was pre-lockdown so I took the opportunity to do a couple of other bits and jumped on an earlier train to Oxford. 

I usually donate the paperback books I no longer want, to the book table at my home train station as they collect for a local children’s charity, but with the more academic, or worthy tomes, I donate to one of Oxfam bookshops in Oxford city centre. I had amassed quite a stack of books over lockdown which I lugged into town in a rucksack and sturdy shopper. 

 Rather than at a local chazza, I also dropped off 6 or 7 vintage handbags at the Oxfam shop on Broad Street (the oldest one in the world apparently) because I know they have a vintage section. I then dived into Marks and Spencer partly because my 2 mugs of morning tea was catching up on me and I know they have toilets, and partly to pick up a couple of food hall bits, before saving the best until last and giving myself a lovely browse around one of my happy places – Paperchase. When everything goes to shit at work, my lunch hour will inevitably find me seeking solace in their calming shelves of stationary. 

 It was really lovely to browse a few shops after all this time.

 When it was time for my eye appointment I was greeted at the door, guided upstairs and given a Covid questionnaire to fill out. The whole process went like clockwork and was extremely well managed. I felt perfectly safe and perfectly comfortable taking time choosing the new frames I most definitely needed. I was due back in Oxford 2 weeks later for my friend Charlotte’s leaving lunch (which I am still in complete denial about.) so I arranged to pick up my new glasses then. They had taken some careful measurements of my face which was kind of weird at the time but meant when I did go in the new glasses fitted perfectly and needed no adjusting, other than me getting used to being able to see clearly once more that is. As my Mother said when she got hers, she looked around and thought Jeez is my kitchen really that dirty?

 The next two weeks zipped by and it was soon time to head back into Oxford again. We were so lucky that we had had everything planned for the week before the second lockdown commenced! Again I went in earlier than 12 noon, firstly to collect my new glasses but secondly to collect The Peacock. I posted a while back now that I had *finally*  finished the huge embroidery that I had been wrestling with for about 9 months. 

I decided that it deserved to be framed and not just rolled up for the next 25 years, yes I genuinely had the kit over 25 years before I actually got round to starting it!?! Well it wasn’t going to go down quietly oh no. It nearly broke me to make it, and it nearly broke poor Richard the framer too. Absolutely and utterly my fault because due to it’s size I had stitched it on a tapestry frame rather than in a hoop, which of course pulled it out of shape. Unlike tapestry however every time it got stretched as soon as they took it out of the stretcher it sprung straight back to it’s misshape, in the end and after 2 months of trying, he had to use a new sort of plastic strip with teeth that you stick to the edge of the frame and kind of pull the fabric over then the teeth lock it in place. 

Anyway here it is, in all it’s glory. Now I just need to figure out where to hang it. 

Charlotte and I had met outside the opticians so after the market we walked into Jericho to The Gardeners Arms where we were meeting 6 other members of the team for lunch. As the maximum number of people who could meet was 6, we had spoken to the venue and asked to have a table of 6 and a table of 4 as near to each other as possible. When we got there sadly they had placed us at opposite ends of the room with a couple of tables in between. The food is all vegetarian and vegan (Charlotte is vegan) and was delicious, frankly anything called a mushroom medley is going to get my vote anyway!

The weather was meant to be bad that day but had stayed fine and sunny, that is right until we left the pub. We had literally walked to the end of the road when the heavens opened, there was thunder lightning and ferocious winds. Charlotte and I dashed round the corner and across the street where we found shelter under a shop awning, we realised we had lost the others and waited ages until they finally appeared completely bedraggled from where they had tried to shelter unsuccessfully by a wall. So I jokingly told them with age comes wisdom and you should always follow the oldies, especially if they know the area well! We ended up racing down to The Jericho Tavern (famous music venue of old and scene of many a drunken night out for me!) where we were able to secure two tables of 5 next to each other once we had done all the track and trace details etc. Our plans had been to maybe go for a walk then head our separate ways until the weather got involved. Instead we had a fabulous afternoon into evening sampling all the cocktails The Jericho had to offer, somehow so much easier when table service is involved. No idea when the others left but Charlotte and I headed off for 9pm trains and yes I was still lugging that huge frame about the whole time! It was so lovely to be able to give Charlotte a proper send off, a couple of other people have left and it’s just not the same doing a zoom meeting goodbye.


We’ve had some weather lately, the wettest Autumn on record apparently, which has meant no walks for me really and I have certainly noticed it. When we did have a couple of fine days I whisked myself out at lunchtime to stroll around the park just down the road from our house. The leaves were so lovely I nipped home for my camera.

We also took a stroll round the new housing estate on the edge of town They have a small Asda there and Himself called in for some beers to take home and I spotted they surprisingly had a really good selection of plants on 3 for £5. So 2 days later when it actually managed to stop raining for a bit I went back with a large shopping bag and bought myself 9. I’m planning a small rockery at some point when the weather lets me, I discovered a pile of big chunks of concrete rubble in the garden when clearing so I thought I might make use of them and the soil from the grow bags!

The garden is having a last hurrah. My delphiniums have finally flowered after getting chewed to within an inch of their lives by slugs. I ended up digging them up and popping them in a pot with copper tape around it.

The eagle eyed among you may have spotted the hedgehog in the top left of this picture. I was slightly surprised to see one too as they are nocturnal as a rule. Usually to see one in day time is a big red flag that they are in need of help, 

but at this time of year the adolescents will come out foraging in the afternoon as they are frantically putting on weight for hibernation. This chap was quite a good size so I was happy to let him go on his way.

I also have a late sunflower. I spotted it randomly growing in the middle of the lawn! So I quickly dug it up before Himself mowed the grass. Typical, I never seem to have success when I plant them deliberately but self seeded away the go.   

It's berries a go-go right now

though the birds have done a good job of striping the holly tree pretty much bare.

two colours of spiky bastard (as Vix & Jon call it)
this one self seeded itself so I cut it into a tree.
these chrysanthemums I bought last year for £2 in Wilko, they were teeny tiny then and I thought they had died, but suddenly in about August they roared into life and grew and grew before bursting into glorious bloom. So they are in completely the wrong place for their height and size but who cares.

This year does seem to have been a bumper year for fruit. We have 5 apple trees in the garden and they all fruited together this year so we have been switching between crumble, strudel and Dorset apple cake every week, no wonder my waistline is expanding!

So here we are in lockdown again. Oxford was on the brink of going up a tier anyway due to certain minorities, in particular some of the university students, just not doing what they are meant too. They even had the police involved at one college where students who knew they were positive had continued to go out into the town, as well as socialize, instead of isolate. It’s hard to believe that these are meant to be the next generation or leaders, but after a life time of working for the university, I can firmly conclude intelligence does not equal common sense. Indeed the more you have of the former the less you have of the later in many cases. SIGH


Halloween was our anniversary so we hunkered down with prosecco and films. 

I made a huge Spaghetti Bolognese and garlic bread so strong it made my eyes stream. 

The next day we took ourselves off for a lovely walk and did some of the Halloween trail the neighbouring village had set up for the children. 

The effort some people went to was immense 

but I particularly liked the skeleton in the hedge.

I have been slowly getting rid of my Converse as they wear out, and much as it breaks my heart not replacing them. With my achilles issues Converse are not the best kind of shoes to wear for more than short walks.  

I bought a pair of silver trainers in the 70% off end of sale page of the Debenhams website  

I need to wear them in a bit round the house but otherwise I love them.

I also bought another reduced Erstwilder brooch. I really can't resist them. I may also have just bought another one whilst doing some Christmas shopping but more of that another day...

Friday, 23 October 2020

Tales of Lockdown Part Four or 9 Dresses.

Hello, I didn’t think it would be quite this long until I’d blog again but there you go. I’ve certainly been kept busy juggling various commitments, and to be honest those combined with spending so much time in front of a laptop for work, my brain is too fried to do anything other than veg. I’ve also been struggling with tired eyes and my current glasses, but that’s a tale for another day.

 Dress One - Hell Bunny Apple Print (Bought in their sale)

To head back to the scorching days of mid-August we finally heard from the coroner and were able to go ahead with the funeral as planned. Himself headed down on the Friday night, his sister arrived on the Sunday and I set off on the Monday afternoon. Travelling through London wasn’t too bad, the circle line was temporarily closed when I got there, but thankfully all my pre-lockdown work trips meant I now have a fairly good idea of that central chunk of the underground and I was able to find another route and still caught the train to Ramsgate with about 5 minutes to spare.

Himself’s friend Paul has been an absolute diamond and kindly agreed we could all base ourselves at his house for the week. Of course it had to be that insanely hot week which makes sleeping impossible and everything an effort.

We spent the Tuesday doing official stuff in the morning and started to clear the house in the afternoon. Our plan was to get as much done as we possible could that week as that was the only time Himself’s sister was able to get there. I decided the best focus of my efforts was to clear the kitchen which is huge with many cupboards, all of which were full. By the end of the week we completely filled a van with the charity donations of household goods, another was furniture, as well as separate piles for stuff to be collected by the council and finally the rest for a skip. What had seemed like an insurmountable task to Himself on Monday was done by Friday, yup we managed to sort the whole house. By Friday I was knackered and my back declared enough was enough. It was a good job we were going home on Saturday because my back had completely seized by then so I couldn’t have done anything more anyway.

 Dress Two - from Heyday (bought in their sale)

It was a strange thing doing a funeral in lockdown. Only 30 guests maximum at the church and 15 at the crematorium, with masks mandatory at all times. Ironically Himself had ordered 3 plain black ones for his Dad which arrived too late for him to use, so we wore one each. In an era when so few of us seem to have the time or inclination to get to know our neighbours it was heart warming to see just how many of Dave’s came to the church. The landlord, his son and the barmaid from his local came too, it really was lovely to hear how well thought of he was.

None of us was too keen to sit in a pub and Dave’s local is not exactly spacious, but on the plus side it is on the seafront in Margate and the weather was firmly on our side so we were able to sit outside and raise a toast.  

Paul kindly borrowed a small van from his work and drove us home on the Saturday with it completely full of everything Himself wanted to keep. Thankfully it all just squeezed in and saved us having to think about doing that at a later date. 

Most weekends since have been taken up with either trips down to Kent for Himself or stuff to do with the house there. Culminating with us both going down a coupe of weeks back to clean as much as possible now the house was empty, meet the estate agent and a couple of other appointments. Now that restrictions are ramping up again we took the decision to just go down over night, staying at the local Premier Inn do as much as possible in one day and catch a late train home. Travelling across London was not pleasant, the underground was full to standing which surprised me, obviously not to pre-covid levels but still… thankfully most were in masks.

We had an earlier start than anticipated when the stair lift removal company called at 7.15am to say they were en-route! Thankfully we were already up, so we packed up our overnight bags quick and dashed across town to be at the house when they arrived at 7.40am. It was a long hard day but we did manage to do all we needed too. The weather that weekend was insane, heavy rain and gale force winds. We literally had to battle along the seafront to the station being painfully sandblasted by the wind whipping off the sea and up the beach, it really hurt and you had to walk with your eyes shut as much as you dared. I have never seen waves like it in all my time visiting Margate. The trains were delayed because of the weather but thankfully running so we finally got home about 11.30pm. Straight into the shower and then bed. The next day when I emptied our bags there was sand all over the kitchen floor! 

Dress 3 - Collectif Leopard Dress (bought in their sale.)

In between we had our annual long weekend in Bournemouth. We thought about cancelling but Himself really wanted to have a break. We toyed about going to Cornwall because of the mad news stories with all those idiots cramming on the beach at Bournemouth but in the end decided to stick with it. We figured as technically kids were now back in school it shouldn’t be too bad, and also as it’s somewhere we know really well we would know places to go to avoid the crowds. As it goes whilst it was lovely to get away, there were a lot of people about and I did find it did make me nervous. It weird how much I feel that these days, when there are crowds of people.

Interestingly there were quite a few big groups of blokes out doing pub crawls. Bournemouth is a big stag and hen destination and I think the girls haven’t come back because they tend to go clubbing and the clubs are still shut, but blokes are more about pub crawls so surprisingly they were still out in force, at least we knew where to avoid!

Our usual B&B of choice was closed so I managed to find another that came recommended. It was in the stag do end of town and the room was tiny but very clean, they prepared your breakfast in a little brown paper bag which you went down and collected and had put a larger kettle and more tea/coffee stuff in the rooms so it worked well.

 The big sad thing was our favourite Restaurant has closed. It’s in a part of the town earmarked for redevelopment so would have had to close anyway, but with covid they just decided to shut now. Gutted. We arrived on the Thursday and it rained bah so we found a pub with table service until it stopped then bought a bag of chips and sat by the beach by the pier to eat them and watch the sea until it was dark.

Dress 4 - Collectif  (bought in their sale.)

For the Friday I booked us tickets for Brownsea Island. I stalked the National Trust website for weeks waiting for the tickets to come up! The weather was just perfect and to be deep in a pine forest with gorgeous fresh and fragrant air sitting looking at the sea, well there’s not a lot to beat it. 

Tickets included the boat trip to the island and you were limited to a 4 hour visit which was my only disappointment  otherwise everything was really well managed. Brownsea Island has a colony of rare Red Squirrels and this time round we got to see a few of them which made my whole visit, it was amazing.

You catch the boat from Poole so we booked a table in a little Italian restaurant on the quayside there for that evening. We killed the time in between visiting a few shops, which was weird but comforting too, I have missed shopping. We also found a quiet pub and had a drink. After a delicious dinner we caught the bus back to Bournemouth and retired to our room with a bottle of wine.

On the Saturday I caught up with my friend Alison for a couple of hours which was lovely. The weather was gorgeous again so the beach was busy. Instead we walked up and down a couple of the chines and went to a little café at the bowling club that she knew about. Definitely one to remember as the food was great and super cheap. In the evening Himself and I had an early dinner then walked away from the crowds to Westbourne where we had a table for two in one of the pubs there and shared a bottle of wine. 

On Sunday we checked out and wandered along the cliff top, they have been holding all the big cruise ships empty just off the Dorset coast and it so happened they were by Bournemouth when we were there. According to Alison some of the local boat owners have been doing good business taking people out to sail around them and stare up at them they are so huge. 

 We headed to the central park where we sat in the park reading and eating one last ice cream before heading to the station. The train home was surprisingly busy but everyone was masked up so all good. It really was great to have a break it was sort of long enough and not long enough at the same time.

 Dress 5 - Bought from a facebook sale page back in March (Trapped at my work due to lockdown and only picked up months later.)

I have been into Oxford a couple of times in the last 6 months. I had to go into work and empty my desk so they could clear our office to be used for a teaching space. That was kind of weird and I just had to grab anything I thought I might find useful at home and could physically carry on the train! 

Dress 6 - Seasalt (Bought in their sale.

We have also had a couple of days were many of my team met in this big café come restaurant come deli in Jericho with our laptops and kind of worked together, though to be honest we mostly gossiped. We also had a socially distanced picnic in University Parks before the rule of 6 came in as a farewell to one of our team who was going home to Australia. That was fun, we all brought our own drinks and snacks and sat in a huge circle. 

One of the girls from our office is 24 and had just moved to a shared house in Oxford in February right before lockdown. I hadn’t seen her since so asked how she was finding it, that it must have been hard and she was like “ Oh no, I have had exactly the same summer as usual, socializing, partying etc. It’s like covid doesn’t exist” and they wonder why our numbers are going up. SIGH. I was only half joking when I told her to stay sitting well away from me because her demographic was the reason mine were getting sick!

Dress 7 - Collectif  (bought full price rerelease that I missed first time round and wasn't going to miss again.)

When I have had any free time I have been pottering in the garden, I really find myself switching off and unwinding when I'm outside. I ordered more compost and re-potted more of my plants inside and out.

My tomatoes FINALLY started to turn but then so did the weather so I ended up picking them all and ripening them inside. I always collect my own seeds and have been really thrown by the huge yellow plum tomatoes as I only ever bought baby plum sized ones, no idea why they suddenly grew huge!

Dress 8 - Seasalt (bought on Ebay.)

 So that brings you up to October and the frocks I have bought up until now. Dress 9 was bought from M&S. I needed some undies and a new green cardigan and was idly browsing the website and fell in love so I just went with it.